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In terms of worldwide cost of living, Singapore has been often ranked as the most expensive city across the globe. The official currency of Singapore is Singapore Dollar (SGD), one of the youngest yet more stable currencies compared to others in financial market. Paper notes are of denominations $2, $5, $10, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, and $10,000. Coins are of denominations 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, and $1.
Whether you are traveling to Singapore from India on a vacation or for work, carrying cash in form of currency notes or traveller’s cheques and other monetary instruments seems a responsible thought. Foreign currencies, personal checks, traveller’s cheques can be easily exchanged at licensed money changers and at most banks in Singapore. Many prefer to exchange currency at authorized moneychangers due to their competitive exchange rates as compared to banks. Further, banks charge a flat fee per transaction, something that travellers might want to avoid. Major credit cards are accepted at most points-of-sale and ATMs can be easily found all over the city.
However, before arriving in Singapore, it is important to understand customs rules regarding bringing in cash from India to Singapore. Without such knowledge, a traveller might end up paying penalty or facing imprisonment by authorities in Singapore.
According to Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, a Singapore government agency website, traveling with Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments (CBNI) such as coins, printed money, bill of exchange, traveller’s cheque, promissory note, bearer bond, money order or postal order worth SGD20,000 (Singapore Dollar) or more need to be declared on arrival in the country. Travelers from India or any other nation in possession of such an amount are asked to fill up the Physical Currency & Bearer Negotiable Instruments Report (Traveler) or NP727 form and submit it at the Customs on arrival in Singapore. Travelers are advised to take the Red Channel while carrying cash above prescribed amount. The currency declaration forms are available at all customs checkpoints and police establishments in Singapore.
Since November 2007, the Government of Singapore has taken stringent measures for the disclosure of movements of CBNI in and out of the country. This has been done to detect, investigate, and prosecute offenders involved in financing drug trafficking, terrorist activities, and other crimes through money laundering. The currency import/ export regulations are consistent with International Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism Standards as set by the Financial Action Task Force. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization started in 1989 by the G7 countries to combat money laundering. Singapore is a member of FATF.
It is important to note that the regulations put on the movement of currency in and out of Singapore are not currency control measures. When a traveller is asked to file a cash movement report, there are no restrictions on the type and amount of cash being moved in or out of the country. Moving CBNI worth SGD20,000 or more through cargo, post, or any other means, also need to be declared through the Physical Currency & Bearer Negotiable Instruments Report (Sender, Carrier, or Recipient) or NP728 form.
If a traveller from India to Singapore fails to provide an accurate and detailed report of CBNI worth SGD20,000 or more in possession, he or she might be fined with an amount not exceeding SGD50,000 or imprisoned for a maximum period of 3 years or both. Further, the cash might be also seized if the traveller fails to provide details. The Commercial Affairs Department of Singapore Police Force investigates and prosecutes offenders involved in cash movement above the prescribed amount.
Indian residents traveling to Singapore can carry up to INR 25,000 in form of Indian currency notes. On foreign currency including Singapore Dollars, there is no cash limit; provided it has been obtained from authorized money exchange and the traveller has receipt of the transaction. However, carrying amounts worth USD 5,000 or more, or foreign exchange in form of traveller’s cheques or bank notes worth USD 10,000 or more must be declared through Customs Declaration Form (CDF) while leaving India.
Though carrying cash while traveling to Singapore might be a good idea, this cannot guarantee security in the event of any unforeseen medical or non-medical emergencies. A medical emergency can be costly in Singapore if it involves out-of-pocket expenses. Non-medical emergencies such as trip cancellation or loss of baggage/ passport can also prove expensive and the carry-along cash would not be enough under these circumstances. Hence, as a responsible traveller, it is wise to invest in a travel insurance that takes care of such unexpected events. Religare Health Insurance’s Travel Insurance for Singapore offers comprehensive coverage including medical and non-medical support, with flexible policy duration up to a maximum of 365 days. So, while you keep yourself updated about currency import regulations in Singapore, buy a travel insurance that takes care of any miscellaneous expenses.